Ask Hal: Concepcion, once and for all, should be in the Hall of Fame

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to

If you are the manager of the Cincinnati Reds and they are down by 10 runs late in the game when you notice players in the dugout laughing and having a good time how would you handle this? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: First of all, I’d never be behind by 10 runs. Never. Secondly, owner Bob Castellini would never hire me, nor would any owner in his right mind. But if that did happen, I’d ask the player, “What’s the joke? Tell me and it better be funny or your next at bat will be in Louisville.” Then I’d ask the umpire, “Can we invoke the 10-run rule and call this game?”

Q: Which players eligible for the Hall of Fame did you consistently vote for who have not made it? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: Exhibit A is Dave Concepcion, for whom I voted every year he was eligible, and it is a felony that he isn’t in. Others? Many. Dave Parker, Al Oliver, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Minnie Minoso, Richie Allen, Keith Hernandez, Gary Sheffield, Lou Whitacre. Are those enough names? All Hall of Famers to me and all were on my ballots.

Q: A player in the Little League World Series put down a perfect bunt that was part of a big inning, so if a 12-year-old can do it why is it so scarce in the big leagues? — THAN, Urbana.

A: Oh, the big leaguers can do it. They just don’t want to do it. Tyler Naquin of the Reds has done it a couple of times lately and Miami’s Magneuris Sierra executed a perfect drag bunt for a hit against the Reds. They can do it, but most prefer dropping one in the seats rather than dropping one down the first base line.

Q: Has MLB ever considered adopting the NFL’s rule of giving the visiting team the option to play offense or defense in the top of the first inning? — DAVID, Corbin, Ky.

A: Actually, whether an NFL team plays offense or defense first is determined by a coin flip. No, MLB has not considered allowing the visiting to choose whether it bats first or second. The visiting team would always choose to bat last because in baseball you always want the last at bat. There is no clock in baseball like football, so you never run out of time. You just run out of outs and you want the chance to make that last out or win with a walk-off hit.

Q: Do MLB players socialize with players on the other team after games or on off days? — LARRY, Piqua.

A: Back in the day, no they wouldn’t. Some wouldn’t even talk to opposing players on the field. Umpires used to sit behind home plate and watch batting practice and players were fined if they were seen fraternizing with opposing players. No more. Now there are far more trades, free agents changing teams and players having the same agents so they know each other well. It is not unusual for a Reds player and an opposing player to be spotted at the same table at the Montgomery Inn or Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse. Nor it is unusual for opposing players to play a little skins game on the golf course during the morning or on off days.

Q: Why does Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart have a yellow ‘C’ on his batting helmet when the rest of the team’s helmets have a white ‘C?’ — JOAN, Springfield.

A: Have you had your TV checked? Barnhart’s off-color ‘C’ is the result of the pine tar he uses on his bats. It transfers to the helmet when he adjusts it. Most of the helmets are cleaned and shined after games, but some players are superstitious and like to leave their helmets soiled. Hall of Famer Jim Thome’s helmet was so filthy you could not see the team logo when he played for the Cleveland Indians. Maybe he didn’t want fans to see for what team he played.

Q: What do you think of the rumored proposal that all MLB teams must have a minimum payroll of $100 million? — ARLEY, Middletown.

A: Some owners would have conniption fits. Of the 30 teams, 17 have payrolls under $100 million. Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Texas are all under $20 million and Cleveland is barely over $20 million. If the Players Association, by some miracle, gets that passed, several owners will be applying for large bank loans and some teams might discover the meaning of contraction.

Q: With Joey Votto’s uncanny ability to see the strike zone, do you think he would make a good umpire when he retires? — JOHN, Oxford.

A: Some umpires would disagree with Votto’s interpretation of the strike zone. He has his own strike zone. If he umpired, pitchers would hate him because he would never give them borderline strikes. But I think Votto would rather clean out sewers than become a member of the umpire’s union.


Q: Why does Aristides Aquino get so much playing time with his .182 batting average when the Reds have so many competent outfielders? — KEITH, Brookville.

A: As an alleged right-handed power hitter, Aquino gets to play against left-handed pitchers in manager David Bell’s platoon situation. Aquino burst on the scene in August of 2019 with a bevy of home runs that would have left Glacier National Park and earned him National League Player of the Month. He took a nose dive in September, hit .170 last season and is a strikeout calculator this year with 60 in his first 137 at bats. After last weekend’s series in Miami he was 0 for 20 with 11 strikeouts. Bell must hope he can catch lightning in a bottle, but there seems to be a real tight cork jammed into that bottle.

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